Remove your Inner Critic
Posted on 24th October 2021
When we self criticise all of the time we consequently produce negative emotions such as anger, depression, anxiety and disappointment. These negative emotions produce stress hormones in our bodies as if we were actually facing someone who was personally attacking us all the time. The brain does not actually know the difference between someone else attacking you with negative comments and you attacking yourself with negative connments.This content will be shown in the summary on the main blog page. Click on this text to edit it.
Even though the inner critic we all have is often nasty and negative it was originally there to protect us. When we were prehistoric man we needed a strong inner critic to survive. The inner critic has helped you in your personal development, it has helped you ‘fit in’ to groups in society.
It tells you where your behaviour may be socially unacceptable, which in prehistoric times could have got you rejected from the tribe and consequently risking your life as you would have been left alone without your group. This same mechanism still exists today with our brains but obviously if you do not fit into a group then it is not really a risk to your life, except in some extreme circumstances which are unlikely to happen these days. However the brain still operates in a very primal way and still registers with messages of what you should or shouldn’t do all the time in situations based on what would help you survive in primitive society. This is not useful for us at times! Especially if you are simply walking into a busy shopping centre but your brain is telling you you are at risk of being attacked because you have shorts on and everyone else is wearing trousers. Or you walk into a lecture at college and you have forgotten your vital book, your brain may tell you what a bad student you are or if the school call you because your child is being naughty and you immediately take it on as being a bad parent. You can see how this is part of our survival system, to fit in, to conform, to be part of the community and integrate in a socially acceptable way, this is core to our instincts.
We are all judgemental and from childhood we make assumptions based on how people perform, their behaviours, their mannerisms do help us to decide if they are trustworthy or not.
When we were cavemen, if we could not trust a person then it could be a risk to our survival as a race and this was highly important.
Your inner critical voice is judging yourself and others all the time. Making sure you fit and they fit.
My inner critic used to tell me that I was not worthy of being listened to, nobody would want to hear me. For some reason I developed this belief as a child, probably being the only girl being brought up in a very male dominated family. Also my mother did not really role model to me having a voice, she was very much dominated by my father.
As a child I was very shy, I went to boarding school and was overwhelmed with girls all alot older than me, who appeared confident, bolshy, able to maintain relationships with other girls and there was alot of banter. I could not cope. It was safer to believe I had nothing to say to avoid any embarrassing situations, being challenged in any way or worse even more being bullied for saying anything. It all felt too risky to open my mouth.
So I became very quiet and closed. This contributed to my downfall as one of my needs is to express myself to someone and get support from others when I am feeling down. Of course I never got any of that because I would not tell anyone.
This is how my inner critic hijacks me, telling me I do not have a voice and that I should remain quiet. This also translated to ‘I deserve to be miserable because I can not socialise like other people’ and then this translated to ‘I do not deserve anything nice in life, good things, rewards or gifts. I was just one of those people who did not get noticed. There was only one thing in my life that got me noticed and that was my ability to produce good academic work. So that was all I came to rely on, it seemed enough as it was too much effort to try and be a person who might be liked for other qualities because I just did not feel or believe I had them. As a result my self esteem was on the floor.
When I went to rehab after years of chronic addictions post leaving boarding school one of the first things they suggested was to buy myself some flowers. This felt like the strangest thing I had ever done and was so difficult, it was an act of self love and self care, something so alien to me. Today I buy myself flowers regularly.
Why do we need to master our inner critic? The inner critical voice is damaging to self belief, self esteem, makes you play small in the world, holds you back from your dreams, pushes you to the back when you should be at the front and makes you feel rotten and worthless.
Imagine if someone was criticising you every day at work. How would you feel? Well with self criticism you are probably doing that to yourself every day. It will make you stressed, anxious and generally negative.
When we self criticise all of the time we consequently produce negative emotions such as anger, depression, anxiety and disappointment. These negative emotions produce stress hormones in our bodies as if we were actually facing someone who was personally attacking us all the time. The brain does not actually know the difference between someone else attacking you with negative comments and you attacking yourself with negative connments.
You would not speak to your best friend in this way so why do it to yourself?
Your inner critic does not often tell the truth, in some way it has been there to protect you from perhaps embarrassing yourself or going into something risky but actually we need to go through these things sometimes to grow and develop, we need to push past our comfort zones.
If your inner critic is telling you, you are not good enough, that is a lie. Perhaps you have failed in life in some things but it does not make you not good enough as a whole person.
Try this exercise…
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine your inner critic talking to you.
What does it sound like? Is it male or female? Is it old or young? Is it you or is it someone you know, a parent perhaps? Or is it like a cartoon character? What is it saying to you? Imagine it with a speech bubble next to it.
Much as it sounds crazy it is a really good idea to give your inner critic an identity. You can then build a rapport with it, so to speak and challenge it.
When I have carried out this exercise in my Self Belief workshops we have had Mothers, Fathers, Mrs Trunchballs, demonic characters, quiet wisperers, teenagers jumping all over everything, black holes and messes, and clouds.
What does your inner critic look like and what does he/she say to you?
Start to notice when the voice of your inner critic is speaking to you and give it an identity. Just notice it. Just notice without judgement.
This is the character of your inner critic, it is separate from you, it is part of you yes but it is not the whole of you. And it tells lies!!
So after you have identified your inner critic, have a word with it. Talk back to it. Tell it where to go or just tell it to sit quietly in the corner and behave itself. I know that may sound weird but by building a relationship with your inner critic you will have more control over it. You will be in charge, the internal voice I know you have that tells you you are actually an ok person. By quieting the inner critic you can help this voice get louder and eventually be the dominant one. Believe me I used to have such a strong inner critic I often would not even speak, even if I wanted to. My inner critic would alway shout at me that no one will want to hear what I have got to say.
Tagged as: Anxiety Depression Inner-critic self-esteem
Share this post: